SOCIAL CHALLENGE AND INNOVATIVE SOLUTION
In 2009, electric driving was an industry with a very limited market. At the time there was little demand for electric vehicles, and only three types of electric cars were available in the Netherlands. As the number of operative electric cars was insignificant, there was little incentive to provide charging stations. In this context, the social entrepreneurs Alef Arendsen and Ritsaart van Montfrans founded NewMotion with the ambition of eradicating the use of fossil fuel in transport.
With the support of Stichting DOEN and its investment arm DOEN Participaties, NewMotion presented a comprehensive solution, stimulating both the demand and the supply of electric cars. On the demand side, NewMotion organised a tendering process for car companies: the SPO approached several companies to ask them how many electric cars they would purchase in case more types of cars would be available. For these companies, they designed a website with all the different types of electric cars that existed at that time. With this number, they invited the car companies to tender, thus creating demand for electric vehicles.
In parallel, they focused on the supply of charging stations for electric vehicles. They made a design for a nationwide network. One potential risk was range anxiety, but NewMotion was able to overcome it by placing fast charging stations at critical points, by cooperating with Van der Valk, a nationwide network of restaurants.
For every obstacle they faced, big or small, they were able to find a solution. This way of working became a turning point for the growth of electric driving in The Netherlands.
KEY SOCIAL IMPACT FIGURES
electric vehicles operating in The Netherlands
NewMotion charging points in Europe
How it started
In the same year that it was founded, NewMotion met Stichting DOEN, referred by another investee company. At the time, the founders of NewMotion had only a business idea, but the solution of tackling both the supply and the demand sides of the industry made their social purpose organisation (SPO) very unique, and DOEN realised its potential for scaling.
Stichting DOEN – Two grants
Stichting DOEN supported NewMotion from the inception of the SPO. In the first phase of their relationship, Stichting DOEN provided NewMotion with two grants of EUR 250,000 to conduct market research and to organise a tender.
The results of the market research guided the first steps of NewMotion. Affordability of electric cars, range of batteries and availability of charging points needed to boost.
DOEN Participaties – Convertible loan to grow the SPO
DOEN Participaties is a social investment vehicle owned by Stichting DOEN. This separate structure enables the investor for impact to support SPOs through equity and hybrid financial instruments. Although separate teams work for each organisation, they are in permanent contact. This structure allows them to assess which financial instrument is best suited to support each investee, and therefore which team should be in charge.
In some cases, Stichting DOEN supports SPOs in their early stages with grants and DOEN Participaties invests through equity or convertible loans as the SPOs develop. In fact, 30% of the pipeline of DOEN Participaties comes from Stichting DOEN.
This was the case with NewMotion. As NewMotion became an important player in the Dutch charging industry, DOEN Participaties provided a convertible loan in 2010. Thanks to the good progress of the SPO, the convertible loan was converted into equity by the end of 2011.
This investment allowed NewMotion to rapidly scale up and increase the number of both electric vehicles and charging points operating in the Netherlands. The success of the solution allowed the SPO to expand to other European countries. By the time of exit (in 2017), NewMotion was a European market leader, active across the Benelux region, as well as in Germany.
Non-financial support at a glance
DOEN Participaties provided NewMotion with extensive non-financial support by providing a financial expert/manager to the investee and enabling the SPO to benefit from DOEN’s knowledge of the market and network. For instance, DOEN Participaties connected NewMotion with Epyon, a producer of fast chargers, and helped the two businesses build a partnership to enhance the supply of chargers in the market. And on the back of DOEN’s investment, other investors decided to join in as well. Finally, NewMotion was used as an example in all DOEN’s communication, including television shows on national broadcast channels.
In 2017, the company Shell – New Energies acquired NewMotion and integrated it into its activities. This operation supposed a major milestone for NewMotion and the charging market, enabling it to accelerate the scaling process of the SPO and to expand the supply of charging stations throughout Europe.
NewMotion grew from supplying 30,000 charging stations in 2017 to 155,000 stations across 35 countries by 2020. The branding of Shell New Energies also allowed NewMotion to become better known and recognised beyond the electric driving sector.
DOEN Participaties does not have a fixed number of years per investment and does not exit an investment as long as it can keep helping the investee grow and increase its social impact. In the case of NewMotion, DOEN Participaties saw in Shell the opportunity to have a commercial investor taking over a pioneer, accelerating the transition to a greener economy and ensuring that the SPO would grow enough to have significant societal impact. In the meantime, the market for electric driving developed extensively, so that whoever had bought NewMotion, the development towards electric driving could not be stopped.